Environment & Health Hong Kong

Lead in water 15 times over safety standard found at two more public estates

Two more public housing estates recorded excessive lead content in their water supply, with one of the samples reaching more than 15 times above international safety standard. A total of 10 estates have been found to have water contamination so far.

The newest affected housing developments were Un Chau Estate Phase 2 and Phase 4 in Sham Shui Po, as well as Choi Fook Estate in Choi Hung.

Among 135 samples, 19 samples from Un Chau Estate were found with excessive lead content. The lead content recorded in the samples ranged from 11-153 micrograms per litre, which is over 15 times over the World Health Organization standard of 10 microgram per litre.

At Choi Fook Estate, 13 out of 90 samples were had excessive lead content, ranging from 11.9-89.2 micrograms per litre.

hong kong estates lead choi fook estate un chau estate scandal

Choi Fook Estate (left) and Un Chau Estate (right). Photo: Wikicommons

Un Chau Estate Phase 2 & 4 was completed in 2008, and Choi Fook Estate in 2010. The estates were built by contractor Yau Lee Construction, a Hong Kong company.

Yau Lee Construction was also the contractor for Lower Nga Tau Kok Estate, Yan On Estate and Shek Kip Mei Estate Phase 2. Water contamination at the three estates were previously confirmed by the government.

Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said that the Housing Authority Tender Committee will decide whether to take action against the contractors, including restricting them from placing tenders on housing authority projects or removing them from the list of approved contractors.

An independent commission chaired by a judge was appointed to investigate the lead-in-water scandal. The commission is expected to report in nine months.

The first case of lead contamination happened in early July following a water sampling investigation by the Democratic Party at Kai Ching Estate in Kowloon City. Water samples at other estates were subsequently found to contain lead. The matter became a citywide concern.

The government conducted water samples at 28 estates and 41 projects. Ten public estates were found to have water contamination.

Lead in water 15 times over safety standard found at two more public estates